“Best” Meaning the Ones You Should Budget for This Year
Actions speak louder than words, which is true for today’s B2B and B2C businesses. More often than not, small businesses use marketing strategies to draw in new customers and increase revenue, but rarely do they focus on customer retention strategies that build long lasting relationships. Customers are more likely to show brand loyalty when a company actually does what is promised. Below are a few key customer-focused marketing tactics that small business owners should budget for in 2019.
All Hail the Mighty, Mighty Content
For many years, the phrase “Content is King” has reigned marketing trend lists. In fact, content has become so important that it now plays into all digital marketing channels, from blogs and thought leadership articles to videos, social media, pay-per-click ads and more. The algorithms search engines use to determine whether or not your content and keywords are relevant often change, but keywords still matter. When optimizing content for keywords, select high opportunity terms or phrases that are relevant to your topic and customers, and place them naturally throughout your content. Repeating the same keyword within one article will not enhance your website rank, but stall it. This practice is referred to as “keyword stuffing” and is considered webspam or spamdexing. A good rule of thumb, if the keyword does not read contextually clearly – don’t use it.
Even though we focus on machines and algorithms more and more these days, we still need to remember our primary audience is made of living people. As you budget for content, keep in mind that more content isn’t necessarily good content. People are bombarded with content. BOMBARDED. For your content to be effective, invest the time and resources it takes to write personalized, authentic content that matters to your audience.
Mind Your Ps and Reviews
If you’ve not already allocated marketing dollars to managing your small business’s online reviews and subsequent reputation, now is the time.
Eighty-eight percent of consumers put as much stock in online reviews they read as they do personal recommendations they receive. And, so do the search engines. The ratings and reviews of your business on platforms like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and such affect your search engine rankings. The higher the better – the reasoning being that if you have excellent ratings and reviews then your business is popular and should be more visible to searchers.
You cannot and will not please all your customers all the time. It speaks volumes when you or your staff takes the time to reply with gratitude to positive reviews. It speaks louder when you or your staff replies with grace to negative reviews. A sincere attempt to make things right can neutralize the effect of a negative review, and reviewers always have the option to update how they rated your business.
Chats and Bots as Instant Customer Service
Patience is a virtue that few of your website visitors will have. Everyone is accustomed to having the information they search for in the palm of their hands within seconds. Small businesses have mere seconds to grab visitors’ attention, so the information they seek had better be easy to find or they’re off to the next website.
Installing live chat software on your website is a highly effective and unobtrusive way to interact with visitors in real time. A chat box pop-up asking a question as simple as, “How can we help?” can measurably increase potential sales. However, if you do not have capacity to manage a chatbot, it is best to not install one. A timely response is essential and it could create a poor experience if a user received no response. If you do need to step away, be sure to change your availability settings to hide the pop-up until you return.
If staffing or other limitations keep live chat from being practical, a chat bot pre-programmed with your most frequent questions can be an attractive option. A bot can also provide a new communications channel after their on-site interaction. Keep in mind the bot is only as smart as the programmer – artificial intelligence progress just isn’t as intuitive as a person yet. Don’t try to trick your customers into thinking they’re talking to a human.
Voice Search is on the Rise
Smart home systems, like Alexa and Google Home, are becoming more popular in consumers’ homes and an essential part of how consumers shop. However, if you think your company is not a candidate for voice search because you are B2B and don’t provide directions or weather updates, don’t be fooled. Voice search is steadily growing for B2B businesses and can help enhance how your website appears in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and how users navigate your site. To enhance SERPs, utilizing long-tailed “ask” keywords (who, what, when, why and how) will increase your opportunity to appear in the “People Also Ask” section of Google, positioning you as an industry expert. Or if you are using a text to voice tool like Amazon’s Polly, it can provide a better experience to navigate through a robust website as voice search is faster than searching by text.
Keep in mind that most voice searches are completed on mobile devices so it is important to make sure your website provides a good mobile experience. If your page takes more than two seconds to load or is not optimized for mobile and hard to navigate, you risk losing a majority of your audience.
Email Marketing Is All About Quality Over Quantity
Deliverability has become a serious concern for marketers these days. The combination of poor data management and increased standards from major email providers, like Gmail and Outlook, can quickly land your email in the SPAM folder. Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels, but only if you set yourself up for success.
In order to reach the inbox every time and maximize revenue from email marketing, you must ensure that you’re sending relevant content to engaged email subscribers. When it comes to email marketing, the goal is no longer about reaching as many people on your list as possible. It’s about reaching the right people, at the right time with the right content. To accomplish this goal in 2019, we recommend embracing email’s evolving best practices, such as list segmentation, data hygiene, email verification and preference centers.
Security and Privacy Cannot be Taken Lightly
Phishing. #fakenews. Facebook under fire. Identity theft. Privacy breaches. All are serious concerns for your customers and for you. Small business owners are consumers, too. Treating the data your customers trust you with as you want yours treated is the new Golden Rule. And if you interact with anyone in Europe, GDPR regulations are the actual golden rules.
Customers deserve their data and privacy to be protected. There are international and federal laws stipulating how that must be done, and these laws extend past financial and health data to marketing. From email addresses to cookies and more, your small business has a legal and moral obligation to responsibly collect, store, and protect information. When that data comes from your marketing efforts, your advertising budget should include taking security and privacy measures.
If you find yourself implementing these trends in your small business’s marketing strategy this year, talk to the marketing experts at EAG Advertising & Marketing, a Kansas City advertising agency. Our team has been helping our small business clients manage and budget these trends going way back to 2018… and some a bit longer than that.